Don’t Give Up

hopeWho else is amazed at the timing of the Lord?  How He sends us encouragement, in a variety of forms, in just the right moments, often when we are on the verge of giving up?

I’ve been burdened lately with a number of distressing situations.  The kind that won’t easily go away, break into your thoughts through the day, and zap you of joy.  They seem to come in waves don’t they?   For me lately, it feels as though many of the struggles I’m experiencing aren’t from rejecting God or doing my own thing, but when I’m stepping out in faith and believing God’s promises.

I’m starting to see a pattern.

I was reading this week from Genesis (chapter 37-38), the life and story of Joseph.  He was given a dream by the Lord, a vivid and meaningful vision that took hold of Him.  Then, life begins to happen.  He is left for dead by his spiteful brothers, raised in status in Egypt but only for a moment.  Off to prison, then back out again only to rule at Pharaoh’s side.

In the book of Psalms, David ponders the life of Joseph and writes:

“Until the time that his word came: the word of the Lord tried him” – Psalm 105:19

God gives a vision, inspires the individual, then goes about proving, testing, trying his faith.  He doesn’t do this with Joesph alone.  Take a walk through the Bible, it’s filled with a consistent pattern that looks something like this:

FIRST- Promise

SECOND- Times of Testing

THIRD- Reward or Promised Results

joseph

[Joesph reveals himself to brothers, the Word of the Lord has been fulfilled]

Think about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob.  The story of the birth of a nation is one long trial of faith isn’t it?  We see this pattern continue with Joesph, the Prophets, Kings.  God is really into inspiring faith, then placing that faith in a cauldron of testing.

Consider Jesus, how challenging was His life, right up to the cross!   God doesn’t spare His own Son from this fiery trial.  Remember the Apostle Paul, the first early Christians.. how victorious did they feel being stoned, rejected by men, and fed to lions.  Think on how God has tested your faith, and continues to!

The road of faith is more like a pathway, overgrown with weeds and unexpected turns, dangerous ravines and poisonous snakes.  God invites us to journey with Him, one that starts here, but doesn’t end here.  He’s preparing us for something greater than this life – but it starts with this journey of faith.

Maybe you too are going through some difficult times.

Don’t give up – your faith is being tested – and that’s a God thing!

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you” – 1 Peter4:12

Why does He test us?

These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. – 1 Pet 1:7

So here’s the deal, and why I think we shouldn’t give up.  Jesus is a refiner’s fire.  He wants to take our lives, and create something special.  We might think that we’re already a precious stone, but our hearts deceive us.  We’re callous, selfish, and too often polluted by the world.  He wants to continue working in us, and forming us into His image.  This brings Him more glory and praise as our hearts are free from the snares of this life and we look onward toward the next.

A heart that passes through the testings of God is a heart that is increasingly happy, content, and resting in God.  The tested heart rejoices more in God, and frets less about the temporal things of life.   The more it rejoices in God, the more glory God receives.

“But who can endure the day of His coming?
And who can stand when He appears?
For He is like a refiner’s fire
And like launderers’ soap.
He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver;  Mal 3:2-3

Here’s what the Lord is teaching me.  To let go of belongings, friends, work, and even family.  Too often even good things can become an idol, a place of extensive thought and concern.   To realize that your controlling grip is only a slight grasp, and release the worries of tomorrow is a wonderful thing.

To realize that God has not abandoned you – that He’s smack in the center of your trials, testing and creating something that will last for eternity.  This is God’s encouragement to me, I hope it encourages you too.

Let patience have its perfect work.   Don’t perceive the struggles of life as a punishment, but a potential reward.  We can use them to practice the art of surrender, and that’s a beautiful thing.

I take heart in remembering Joesph.  The journey was not easy, but God is faithful.

 

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